Would you like to read Michael Dirda’s introduction to the new edition of Kingsley Amis’s The Green Man? Because you can — and it’s a worthwhile essay, looking at how Amis blends elements of the traditional ghost story with his own preferred musings on philosophy, disillusionment, and the drinking life.
When Maurice is asked, “Why do you look as if something’s after you all the time?,” one answer might be “Because I’ve seen a ghost.” But another might well be “Because the hound of Heaven is on my heels” or “Because at my back I always hear Time’s winged chariot drawing near.” The desire for sex and the fear of death are inextricably linked: Dying, after all, traditionally describes sexual ecstasy as well as personal extinction. Behind Maurice’s laddish bluster lies a quiet desperation, a longing for peace of mind and for release from his unrelenting self-consciousness.
And if that piques your interest, perhaps you’d like to check out Lev Grossman, Nathaniel Adams, and Jen Vafidis talking about Amis’s work this evening?